Companies are increasingly investing in brand publishing operations in order to build their own audiences and assets, and to express their perspectives and interests more directly to the world.
Brand publishing goes far beyond straightforward public relations or marketing. It demands companies think audience-first and adopt the habits and values of publishers and media organizations in order to create content that is valuable and compelling, and capable of attracting and engaging audiences in its own right.
But beyond “building an audience”, the specific goals and intended business outcomes for brand publishing initiatives inevitably vary from one company to the next based on variables such as industry, strategy, products, goals, priorities, aspirations and budgets. Some might have multiple goals for their brand publishing efforts, while others may focus on a single outcome that helps directly drive their broader business.
Companies that invest in successful brand publishing operations often do so to achieve one or more of the following objectives:
One of the most common goals for brand publishing endeavors is simply to familiarize specific audiences with a company and its products and services. Content offers a powerful vehicle for telling the story of a company and its origins, but also demonstrating its mindset, beliefs, values and perspective on the world. For established companies, brand publishing can help explain and add context around new products or services they might be launching or industries and sectors they might be exploring or entering. For startups and less-established companies, content can form a powerful core around which companies can build products and services in an audience-first manner.
Educate an audience
Closely tied to awareness, education is often a key priority for those considering creating a brand publishing operation within their companies. This can be particularly relevant for companies in certain categories that are new or cutting-edge, such as science, biopharma, or technology, for example. A big part of their marketing approach lies in educating the public, would-be investors or prospective customers about what they do and why it’s important. This is also particularly important for companies that operate primarily in B2B categories, where regular consumers may not know much about what they do or find it relevant. Content offers a vehicle to enliven those categories and to educate and inform audiences in a far more accessible and dynamic way than typical sales processes might.
Position a company (or its staffers) as an authority
Inside most companies lies a wealth of knowledge and expertise that powers the products and services they produce and provide. Brand publishing offers the opportunity for companies to “show, rather than tell” the market why their offerings and approaches are superior to — or differentiated from — their competitors. Depending on the tactics and approaches used, companies can be positioned as an authority or thought leader and/or the staffers and executives within them.
Generate online traffic
Driving organic (or unpaid) traffic to a website — or increasing listens of a podcast or views of a video — is a common goal for many brand publishers. At a basic level, increased traffic can often help generate sales or inbound interest and “leads” as audiences become familiar with what the company does and what it can do for them. But perhaps more importantly, content can offer a more powerful way to engage prospective customers than paid advertising by providing them with tangible value. Coupled with strong technology and search engine optimization practices, brand publishing can generate highly-qualified inbound traffic based on meeting users’ specific challenges and needs, and for a fraction of the cost of paid advertising. From there, it opens up opportunities to build strong and ongoing relationships with audiences through simple brand affinity, but also via more robust email programs, loyalty programs and much more.
An often overlooked benefit of brand publishing is the opportunity it presents to collect valuable information about audiences and prospective customers. Simple lead-generation forms can be used to collect inbound customer information, for example, or site visitors might be tracked elsewhere across the web in order to build out more complete customer profiles. But perhaps most interestingly, a growing number of companies are now using their brand publishing initiatives as powerful market research tools. In addition to helping them understand how best to pitch their products and services to prospective customers from a marketing and sales perspective, sophisticated companies are increasingly using their owned audiences to gain a detailed understanding of their customers’ needs and challenges and to directly inform and shape the development of their offerings as a result.
As competition for talent continues to intensify across many industries, content is playing an increasingly valuable role in helping to attract and retain high-quality staffers. Brand publishing can be used as a highly effective recruiting tool thanks to its ability to showcase attributes and successes of companies and their cultures, how companies’ leaders think and behave, and to highlight the types of problems they’re solving.
For detailed practical guidance on how to set up a successful brand publishing initiative, see the Brand Publishing Toolkit.